Pure Air Daigle L L C et al v. Stagg, II et al
MEMORANDUM RULING re 107 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the parties, and for the reasons fully explained herein, the motion is GRANTED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Patrick J Hanna on 9/15/2017. (crt,Alexander, E)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
PURE AIR DAIGLE, LLC, ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:16-cv-01322
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HANNA
CHARLES STAGG, II, ET AL.
BY CONSENT OF THE PARTIES
Currently pending is the defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment with
regard to the plaintiffs’ claims against defendant Brad Guidry. (Rec. Doc. 107). The
motion is opposed. Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the
parties, and for the reasons fully explained below, the motion is GRANTED.
Defendants Charles Stagg, II, Scott Lanclos, Phillip Courville, Jr., and Brad
Guidry (“the Employee Defendants”) were all formerly employed by Daigle Welding
Supply. The plaintiffs are the successors of that company. Defendant Capitol
Welders Supply Co. Inc. was a long-time supplier of the plaintiffs. In 2016, Capitol
formed defendant St. Landry Gas & Supply, L.L.C., which is a competitor of the
plaintiffs. The Employee Defendants left their employment with the plaintiffs and all
of them went to work for St. Landry Gas.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs asserted claims against the defendants for
breach of contract, violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer
Protection Law (“LUTPA”), breach of fiduciary duties, conversion, tortious
interference with contractual relationships, tortious interference with business
relationships, and conspiracy. No breach of contract claim was asserted against Mr.
Guidry, and the breach of contract claim against Mr. Stagg, Mr. Lanclos, and Mr.
Courville was previously dismissed with prejudice. (Rec. Docs. 131, 132). The
tortious interference with contractual relations claim was previously dismissed with
prejudice. (Rec. Docs. 135, 136). The conversion claim was previously dismissed
with prejudice. (Rec. Docs. 133, 134). The instant motion relates solely to the
plaintiffs’ claims against Mr. Guidry. The claims remaining against Mr. Guidry are
for unfair trade practices, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with business
relations, and conspiracy.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
THE SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment
is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A fact is material if proof of
its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the
applicable governing law.1 A genuine issue of material fact exists if a reasonable jury
could render a verdict for the nonmoving party.2
The party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility of informing
the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those parts of the record that
demonstrate the absence of genuine issues of material fact.3 If the moving party
carries its initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate the
existence of a genuine issue of a material fact.4 All facts and inferences are construed
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.5
If the dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden by pointing out that
there is insufficient proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Sossamon v. Lone Star
State of Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 326 (5th Cir. 2009); Hamilton v. Segue Software, Inc., 232 F.3d 473, 477
(5th Cir. 2000).
Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 252); Hamilton v. Segue Software, Inc., 232 F.3d at 477.
Washburn v. Harvey, 504 F.3d 505, 508 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)).
Washburn v. Harvey, 504 F.3d at 508.
Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d at 326 (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).
claim.6 The motion should be granted if the nonmoving party cannot produce
evidence to support an essential element of its claim.7
THE APPLICABLE LAW
A federal court sitting in diversity must apply state substantive law and federal
procedural law.8 Because this is a diversity case, Louisiana’s substantive law must
be applied.9 To determine Louisiana law, federal courts look to the final decisions
of the Louisiana Supreme Court.10 When the state's highest court has not decided an
issue, the court must make an “Erie guess” as to how the state supreme court would
decide the issue.11 In making such a guess, the federal court may rely upon state
appellate court decisions, unless persuasive data convinces the court that the state
supreme court would decide the issue differently.12 When making an Erie guess
Norwegian Bulk Transport A/S v. International Marine Terminals Partnership, 520
F.3d 409, 412 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 325).
Condrey v. Suntrust Bank of Ga., 431 F.3d 191, 197 (5th Cir. 2005).
Erie R. R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938); Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities,
Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 427 (1996); Coury v. Moss, 529 F.3d 579, 584 (5th Cir. 2008).
See, e.g., Moore v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 556 F.3d 264, 269 (5th Cir. 2009).
Moore v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 556 F.3d at 269.
Temple v. McCall, 720 F.3d 301, 307 (5th Cir. 2013); Moore v. State Farm Fire &
Casualty Co., 556 F.3d at 269.
Guilbeau v. Hess Corporation, 854 F.3d 310, 311-12 (5th Cir. 2017); Temple v.
McCall, 720 F.3d at 307; Mem'l Hermann Healthcare Sys., Inc. v. Eurocopter Deutschland, GMBH,
524 F.3d 676, 678 (5th Cir. 2008).
concerning Louisiana law, the Fifth Circuit In making an Erie guess, relies upon “(1)
decisions of the [Louisiana] Supreme Court in analogous cases, (2) the rationales and
analyses underlying [Louisiana] Supreme Court decisions on related issues, (3) dicta
by the [Louisiana] Supreme Court, (4) lower state court decisions, (5) the general rule
on the question, (6) the rulings of courts of other states to which [Louisiana] courts
look when formulating substantive law and (7) other available sources, such as
treatises and legal commentaries.”13
LOUISIANA LAW REGARDING UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES
In their complaint, the plaintiffs asserted a claim against Mr. Guidry for
violation of Louisiana’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law
(“LUTPA”), La. R.S. 51:1401, et seq. This statute declares that “[u]nfair methods of
competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or
commerce” are unlawful. “LUTPA grants a right of action to any person, natural or
juridical, who suffers an ascertainable loss as a result of another person's use of unfair
methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any
trade or commerce.”14
Gulf and Mississippi River Transp. Co., Ltd. v. BP Oil Pipeline Co., 730 F.3d 484,
488–89 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting Am. Int'l Specialty Lines Ins. Co. v. Rentech Steel, L.L.C., 620 F.3d
558, 564 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Hodges v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 474 F.3d 188, 199 (5th Cir. 2006))).
Cheramie Services, Inc. v. Shell Deepwater Production, Inc., 2009-1633 (La.
04/23/10), 35 So.3d 1053, 1057.
The elements of a cause of action under LUTPA are: (1) an unfair or deceptive
trade practice declared unlawful; (2) that impacts a consumer, business competitor,
or other person to whom the statute grants a private right of action; (3) which has
caused ascertainable loss.15 Actual damages may be awarded under LUTPA.16 The
recovery of general damages is available under LUTPA, including damages for
mental anguish and humiliation.17 When a plaintiff is awarded damages under
LUTPA, the plaintiff is also entitled to recover an award of attorneys’ fees.18
Courts must decide, on a case-by-case basis, what conduct violates LUTPA.19
Under this statute, an act need not be both unfair and deceptive to be actionable.20 A
practice is unfair “when the practice is unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, or
Elliott Company v. Montgomery, No. 6:15-02404, 2016 WL 6301042, at *5 (W.D.
La. Sept. 28, 2016), report and recommendation adopted, 2016 WL 6301106 (W.D. La. Oct. 26,
2016); FloQuip, Inc. v. Chem Rock Techs., No. 6:16-0035, 2016 WL 4574436, at *16 (W.D. La.
June 20, 2016), report and recommendation adopted, 2016 WL 4581345 (W.D. La. Sept. 1, 2016);
Frontline Petroleum Training System, LLC v. Premier Safety Management, Inc., No. 6:13-cv-01259,
2013 WL 6667332, at *4 (W.D. La. Dec. 17, 2013); Who Dat Yat LLC v. Who Dat? Inc., No. 101333, 10-2296, 2011 WL 39043, at *3 (E.D. La. Jan. 4, 2011).
La. R.S. 51:1405.
Gandhi v. Sonal Furniture & Custom Draperies, L.L.C., 49,959 (La. App. 2 Cir.
07/15/15), 192 So.3d 783, 792, writ denied, 15-1547 (La.10/23/15), 184 So.3d 19.
La. R.S. 51:1409(A).
Cheramie Services, Inc. v. Shell Deepwater Production, Inc., 35 So.3d at 1059.
Jefferson v. Chevron U.S.A. Inc., 97-2436 (La. App. 4 Cir. 05/20/98), 713 So.2d 785,
792, writ denied, 98-1681 (La. 10/16/98).
substantially injurious,”21 while a practice is deceptive when it amounts to “fraud,
deceit or misrepresentation.”22 Thus, “LUTPA claims are not limited solely to
allegations of fraud, but may be independently premised on a range of non-fraudulent
Negligent acts do not violate the LUTPA,24 and LUTPA does not provide an
alternative remedy for breaches of contract.25 Furthermore, “LUTPA does not
prohibit sound business practices, the exercise of permissible business judgment, or
appropriate free enterprise transactions.”26
With regard to the particular context of this lawsuit, it is well established that
LUTPA is not violated when employees merely terminate their employment and then
go to work for their former employer’s competitor. “[A]t-will employees are free to
exercise their right to change employment, even if they decide to work for a
Cheramie Services, Inc. v. Shell Deepwater Production, Inc., 35 So.3d at 1059-60.
Rockwell Automation, Inc. v. Montgomery, No. 17-415, 2017 WL 2294687, at *3
(W.D. La. May 24, 2017); Southern General Agency, Inc. v. Burns & Wilcox, Ltd., 09-1918, 2012
WL 3987890, at *1 (W.D. La. Sept. 11, 2012).
Mabile v. BP, p.l.c., No. 11-1783, 2016 WL 5231839, at *24 (E.D. La. Sept. 22,
2016), 144 So.3d 1011, 1025.
Quality Environmental Processes, Inc. v. I.P. Petroleum Co., Inc., 2013-1582 (La.
05/07/14) 144 So.3d 1011, 1025; Turner v. Purina Mills, Inc., 989 F.2d 1419, 1422 (5th Cir. 1993).
Cheramie Services, Inc. v. Shell Deepwater Production, Inc., 35 So.3d at 1060
(quoting with approval Turner v. Purina Mills, Inc., 989 F.2d at 1422).
Cheramie Services, Inc. v. Shell Deepwater Production, Inc., 35 So.3d at 1060.
competitor of their former employer.”27 “[A]t the termination of [his] employment,
an employee can go to work for a competitor or form a competing business. Even
before termination, the employee can seek other work or prepare to compete.”28 “An
employee's involvement in forming a competitive entity, including the solicitation of
business and the hiring of employees, prior to terminating his current employment
relationship, is not an unfair trade practice.”29
Furthermore, while the solicitation and diversion of an employer’s customers
prior to termination of employment constitutes unfair competition entitling the former
employer to recover damages,30 the solicitation of customers after the end of
employment does not form the basis of a cause of action for unfair competition.31 An
employee is free to solicit customers from his former employer “as long as he does
Cheramie Services, Inc. v. Shell Deepwater Production, Inc., 35 So.3d at 1060.
American Machinery Movers, Inc., 136 F.Supp.2d at 604 (quoting United Group of
Nat. Paper Distributors, Inc. v. Vinson, 27,739 (La. App. 2 Cir. 01/25/96), 666 So.2d 1338, 1348,
writ denied, 96-0714 (La. 09/27/96), 666 So.2d 1338). See, also, SDT Industries, Inc. v. Leeper,
34,655 (La. App. 2 Cir. 08/16/01), 793 So.2d 327, 333, writ denied, 2001-2558 (La. 12/07/01), 803
SDT Industries, Inc. v. Leeper, 793 So.2d at 333.
Dufau v. Creole Engineering, Inc., 465 So.2d 752, 758 (La. App. 5th Cir.), writ
denied, 468 So.2d 1207 (La. 1985).
First Page Operating Under the Name and Corporate Entity, Groome Enterprises,
Inc. v. Network Paging, Corp., 628 So.2d 130, 137 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1993), writ denied, 634 So.2d
379 (La. 1994); Boncosky Servs., Inc. v. Lampo, 98-2239 (La. App. 1 Cir. 11/05/99), 751 So.2d 278,
287, writ denied, 2000-0322 (La. 03/24/00), 758 So.2d 798.
so based on his memory, experience, or personal contacts, rather than through the use
of confidential information of the former employer.”32 “A former employee who
enters business in competition with his former employer necessarily utilizes the
experience he acquired and the skills he developed while in a former employment.”33
“[T]he mere fact that each individual defendant brought with [him] his knowledge of
previous business contacts and relationships and specialized knowledge of the. . .
business does not constitute a violation of LUPTA.”34
BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTIES
The elements of a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under Louisiana law
include: (1) the existence of a fiduciary duty, (2) a violation of that duty by the
fiduciary, and (3) damages resulting from the violation of duty.35 “[W]hether a
fiduciary duty exists, and the extent of that duty, depends upon the facts and
American Machinery Movers, Inc. v. Machinery Movers of New Orleans, LLC, 136
F.Supp.2d 599, 604 (E.D. La. 2001), affirmed, 34 Fed. App’x 150 (5th Cir. 2002); see also
CheckPoint Fluidic Systems Intern., Ltd. v. Guccione, 888 F.Supp.2d 780, 796 (E.D. La. 2012).
Boncosky Servs., Inc. v. Lampo, 751 So.2d at 287.
Creative Risk Controls, Inc. v. Brechtel, 01-1150 (La. App. 5 Cir. 04/29/03), 847
So.2d 20, 25, writ denied, 2003-1769 (La. 10/10/03), 855 So.2d 353.
U.S. Small Business Admin. v. Beaulieu, 75 Fed. App’x 249, 252 (5th Cir. 2003)
(citing Brockman v. Salt Lake Farm Partnership, 33,938 (La. App. 2 Cir. 10/04/00), 768 So.2d 836,
844, writ denied, 2000-C-3012 (La. 12/15/00), 777 So. 2d 1234)); Omnitech International, Inc. v.
The Clorox Co., 11 F.3d 1316, 1330 and n. 20 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 815 (1994)
circumstances of the case and the relationship of the parties.”36
mandataries owe duties of fidelity and loyalty to their employers and principals.37
“An employee owes his employer a duty to be loyal and faithful to the employer's
interest in business.”38 An employee is duty-bound not to act in antagonism or
opposition to the interest of his employer.39
Louisiana courts have determined that, under circumstances where an employee
solicited customers and copied confidential customer lists of his employer while still
employed, a breach of fiduciary duty may be found.40 However,
[w]ithout a restrictive agreement, at the termination of her employment,
an employee can go to work for a competitor or form a competing
business. Even before termination, the employee can seek other work
or prepare to compete, except that she may not use confidential
information acquired by her from her previous employer. . . . [A]n
Scheffler v. Adams and Reese, LLP, 2006–1774 (La. 02/22/07); 950 So.2d 641, 647.
Texana Oil & Refining Co. v. Belchic, 90 So. at 527; Neal v. Daniels, 47 So.2d 44,
45 (1950); Harrison v. CD Consulting, Inc., 05-1087 (La. App. 1 Cir. 05/05/06), 934 So.2d 166,
170; Cenla Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Agency, Inc. v. Lavergne, 657 So.2d at 177; Odeco
Oil & Gas Co. v. Nunez, 532 So.2d at 462.
ODECO Oil & Gas Co. v. Nunez, 532 So.2d at 463 (quoting Dufau v. Creole
Engineering, Inc., 465 So.2d 752, 758 (La. App. 5 Cir.), writ denied, 468 So.2d 1207 (La. 1985)).
Neal v. Daniels, 47 So.2d at 45 (quoting Texana Oil & Refining Co. v. Belchic, 90
So. at 527; Harrison v. CD Consulting, Inc., 934 So.2d at 170.
See, e.g., Cenla Physical Therapy & Rehab. Agency Inc v. Lavergne, 657 So.2d at
177 (finding genuine issue of material fact whether defendants breached fiduciary duty to employer
by copying patient lists); Huey T. Littleton Claims Service, Inc. v. McGuffee, 497 So.2d 790, 794 (La.
App. 3 Cir., 1986) (finding defendant breached his fiduciary duty by soliciting former employer's
customers and copying employer's customer list).
employee’s involvement in forming a competitive entity, including the
solicitation of business and the hiring of employees, prior to terminating
her current employment relationship, is not an unfair trade practice. [An
employee has] a right to explore alternatives to her current employment
and to change jobs. She had no duty or obligation to disclose to [her
employer] her intent to seek other employment.41
Therefore, “[i]t is not a breach of fiduciary duty for former employees to solicit the
clients of their former employers as long as they do so based on their memory,
experience, or personal contacts, rather than through the use of confidential
information of the former employer.”42 Thus, merely planning to compete – even
while employed – does not necessarily constitute a breach of fiduciary duty.
“[H]istorically, an employee's breach of his fiduciary duty to his employer has
been contemplated in instances when an employee has engaged in dishonest behavior
or unfair trade practices for the purpose of his own financial or commercial
benefit. . . . Thus, the question of breach of fiduciary duty or loyalty as an employee
collapses into the question of whether the employee's actions constitute unfair trade
practices. . . .”43
United Group of Nat. Paper Distributors, Inc. v. Vinson, 27,739 (La. App. 2 Cir.
01/25/96), 666 So.2d 1338, 1348, writ denied, 96-C-0714 (La. 09/27/96), 679 So.2d 1358.
CheckPoint Fluidic Systems Intern., Ltd. v. Guccione, 888 F.Supp.2d 780, 796 (E.D.
La. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Frederic v. KBK Fin., Inc., No. 00–0481, 2001
WL 30204, at *5 (E.D. La. Jan. 9, 2001).
Elliott Company v. Montgomery, No. 15-02404, 2016 WL 6301042, at *6-7 (W.D.
La. Sept. 28, 2016), report and recommendation adopted, 2016 WL 6301106 (W.D. La. Oct. 26,
TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH BUSINESS RELATIONS
The Louisiana Supreme Court recognizes a cause of action for tortious
interference with business arising under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.44
However, Louisiana courts view tortious interference with business relations claims
with disfavor.45 This tort “is based on the principle that the right to influence others
not to deal is not absolute.”46 “Louisiana law protects the businessman from
malicious and wanton interference, permitting only interferences designed to protect
a legitimate interest of the actor.”47 To prevail on such a claim, a plaintiff cannot
merely show that a defendant's actions affected his business interests; instead, the
plaintiff must establish that the defendant actually prevented the plaintiff from
dealing with a third party.48 A plaintiff must also show that the defendant acted with
2016) (quoting Restivo v. Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc., 483 F.Supp.2d 521, 534 (E.D. La.
2007) (internal citations omitted); see, also, Harrison v. CD Consulting, Inc., 934 So.3d at 170.
Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d 594, 601 (5th Cir. 1981) (citing Graham
v. St. Charles St. Railroad, 18 So. 707 (La. 1895)); Iberiabank v. Broussard, No. 6:14-CV-2448,
2016 WL 4571207, at *2 (W.D. La. Aug. 30, 2016).
Iberiabank v. Broussard, 2016 WL 4571207, at *3 (citing Henderson v. Bailey Bark
Materials, 47,946-CA (La. App. 2 Cir. 04/10/13), 116 So.3d 30, 37; JCD Mktg. Co. v. Bass Hotels
and Resorts, Inc., 2001-CA-1096 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2002), 812 So.2d 834, 841).
Junior Money Bags, Ltd. v. Segal, 970 F.2d 1, 10 (5th Cir. 1992).
Junior Money Bags, Ltd. v. Segal, 970 F.2d at 10 (quoting Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv.
Corp., 660 F.2d at 601 (internal quotations marks omitted)).
Ashford v. Aeroframe Services LLC, 2017 WL 2293109, at *16; Bogues v. Louisiana
Energy Consultants, Inc., 46,434 (La. App. 2 Cir. 8/10/11), 71 So.3d 1128, 1135; Ustica Enterprises,
malice.49 “Although its meaning is not perfectly clear, the malice element seems to
require a showing of spite or ill will, which is difficult (if not impossible) to prove in
most commercial cases in which conduct is driven by the profit motive, not by bad
feelings.”50 A court in this district recently noted that there appear to be no reported
cases in which anyone actually has been held liable for this tort.51
Under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2324, “[h]e who conspires with another
person to commit an intentional or willful act is answerable in solido, with that
person, for the damage caused by such act.” But that statute does not, by itself,
impose liability for a civil conspiracy.52 “The actionable element in a claim under this
Article is not the conspiracy itself, but rather the tort which the conspirators agreed
Inc. v. Costello, 434 So.2d 137, 140 (La. App. 5 Cir. 1983).
Iberiabank v. Broussard, 2016 WL 4571207, at *3 (citing JCD Mktg. Co. v. Bass
Hotels and Resorts, Inc., 812 So.2d at 841; Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d at 602)).
Ashford v. Aeroframe Services LLC, 2017 WL 2293109, at *16 (quoting Bogues v.
Louisiana Energy Consultants, Inc., 71 So. 3d at 1135 (in turn quoting JCD Mktg. Co. v. Bass Hotels
and Resorts, Inc., 812 So. 2d at 841)).
Iberiabank v. Broussard, 2016 WL 4571207, at *3 (quoting JCD Marketing Co. v.
Bass Hotels and Resorts, Inc., 812 So.2d at 841 (quoting George Denegre, Jr., et al., Tortious
Interference and Unfair Trade Claims: Louisiana's Elusive Remedies for Business Interference, 45
Loy. L. Rev. 395, 401 (1999))).
Ross v. Conoco, Inc., 2002-0299 (La. 10/15/02), 828 So.2d 546, 551-52.
to perpetrate and which they actually commit in whole or in part.”53 To recover under
a conspiracy theory of liability under Louisiana law, a plaintiff must prove that an
agreement existed to commit an illegal or tortious act; the act was actually committed
and resulted in the plaintiff's injury; and there was an agreement as to the intended
outcome or result.54 Whether or not a party has engaged in a conspiracy is itself a
question of fact.55
In the context of the pending motion, there must be proof of either unfair trade
practices, breach of fiduciary duty, or tortious interference with business relations in
order for there to be evidence of an actionable conspiracy.
MR. GUIDRY IS ENTITLED TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN HIS FAVOR
The plaintiffs argue, in opposition to the pending motion, that Mr. Guidry
violated LUTPA by encouraging the other Employee Defendants to harm Daigle and
by using Daigle’s confidential information to harm Daigle. (Rec. Doc. 111 at 8).
However, the plaintiffs offered no evidence in support of those allegations.
Ross v. Conoco, Inc., 828 So.2d at 551-52 (quoting Butz v. Lynch, 97-2166 (La. App.
1 Cir. 04/08/98), 710 So.2d 1171, 1174, writ denied, 98-1247 (La. 06/19/98), 721 So.2d 473).
Marceaux v. Lafayette City-Parish Consol. Government, 921 F.Supp.2d 605, 642 n.
98 (W.D. La. 2013); Crutcher-Tufts Resources, Inc. v. Tufts, 2009-1572 (La. App. 4 Cir. 04/28/10),
38 So.3d 987, 991; Butz v. Lynch, 710 So.2d at 1174.
Quality Environmental Processes, Inc. v. IP Petroleum Company, Inc., 2016-0230
(La. App. 1 Cir. 04/12/17), 219 So.3d 349, 370.
Particularly, they submitted no evidence showing that Mr. Guidry took any of
Daigle’s confidential or proprietary information when he left his job with Daigle or
that he ever used any such information in recruiting clients to St. Landry Gas or in an
effort to harm Daigle.
The plaintiffs also argued that Mr. Guidry attempted to convince Daigle’s
customers to stop using Daigle’s services and become St. Landry Gas’s customers and
that he did so maliciously. At his deposition, Mr. Guidry testified that he did not
target any of Daigle’s customers with the intention of convincing them to switch to
St. Landry Gas while he was still working for Daigle. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 11). He
admitted, however, that he “approached” seven of Daigle’s customers after he went
to work for St. Landry Gas. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 11-14). The plaintiffs presented no
evidence that Mr. Guidry did anything that was in any way deceptive or unfair when
he approached those customers. Therefore, the plaintiffs have presented no evidence
that Mr. Guidry violated LUTPA.
Similarly, the plaintiffs have presented no evidence that Mr. Guidry acted with
malice when he approached those customers or that his efforts resulted in the
plaintiffs actually being prevented from dealing with any third party. Therefore, the
plaintiffs have presented no evidence that Mr. Guidry interfered with Daigle’s
In support of their breach of fiduciary duty claim, the plaintiffs argued that
“Mr. Guidry encouraged the other Employee Defendants to take actions that were
contrary to the best interests of their employer.” (Rec. Doc. 111 at 10). They claim
that they presented evidence that Mr. Guidry and Mr. Courville discussed leaving
Daigle. The deposition excerpt to which they cited in support of that contention (Rec.
Doc. 111-3 at 2-3) actually contains no evidence that Mr. Guidry had a conversation
with Mr. Courville about leaving Daigle. They presented evidence that Mr. Guidry
and Mr. Stagg discussed Mr. Guidry’s going to work for St. Landry Gas around the
first week of September (Rec. Doc. 111-4 at 2) but there is no information about the
length of the conversation, where it occurred, or what time of day it occurred.
Therefore, there is no evidence that Mr. Guidry breached any duty he owed to Daigle
by having this conversation. The plaintiffs claim that Mr. Stagg and Mr. Guidry had
a conversation during work hours about Mr. Guidry possibly leaving Daigle. The
deposition testimony cited to actually is only to the effect that Mr. Stagg received a
telephone call from Kelly Root and announced to the office that Mr. Root was
opening a new business in Opelousas. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 3). They claim that Mr.
Guidry referred Nick Dupre (a former Daigle employee) to St. Landry Gas. In fact,
however, Mr. Guidry testified that he simply introduced Mr. Dupre to Mr. Stagg
when Mr. Dupre came into Daigle’s office. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 5). Mr. Dupre’s
employment application with St. Landry Gas indicates that he was referred by “Brad,”
but there is no evidence that this is a reference to Mr. Guidry or that it was the result
of some sort of influence that Mr. Guidry had over Mr. Dupre. Even if Mr. Guidry
did encourage Mr. Dupre to go to work for St. Landry Gas, however, that is irrelevant
because Mr. Dupre was a former Daigle employee – not a current Daigle employee.
There simply is no evidence that Mr. Guidry encouraged any other Daigle employee
to leave Daigle and go to work for St. Landry Gas.
The plaintiffs also argue that Mr. Guidry breached his fiduciary duties to
Daigle by concealing from Daigle his intention to leave his employment with Daigle
and go to work for St. Landry Gas. But there is no statutory or jurisprudential
authority for the proposition that an employee must tell his employer that he is
looking for a new job. A person has a right, under Louisiana law, to explore
alternatives to his current employment and to change jobs,56 and an employee has no
duty or obligation to disclose to his current employer that he intends to seek other
employment.57 Even when an employee gave notice to his employer that he was
terminating his employment only after he returned to the United States from Abu
Dhabi, the court found that his allegedly inadequate notice of resignation was not a
United Group of Nat. Paper Distributors, Inc. v. Vinson, 666 So.2d at 1348.
United Group of Nat. Paper Distributors, Inc. v. Vinson, 666 So.2d at 1348.
breach of his fiduciary duty to his employer.58 Therefore, Mr. Guidry had no
obligation to tell his employer that he was planning to change jobs. The plaintiffs
have not established that Mr. Guidry breached any fiduciary duty he might have owed
to the plaintiffs.
Because the plaintiffs have not satisfied their burden of proving the elements
of their breach of fiduciary duty, unfair trade practices, or tortious interference with
business relations claims, they similarly have not proven that Mr. Guidry was
engaged in a conspiracy to commit any of those torts.
Finally, this Court finds that there are no credibility issues before it, and this
Court made no credibility determinations in resolving the pending motion. Instead,
the plaintiffs have not satisfied their burden of proof. A party responding to a motion
for summary judgment, such as the plaintiffs in this case, must rely upon evidence
rather than argument, speculation, or conjecture.59 “In response to a properly
supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmovant must identify specific
evidence in the record and articulate the manner in which that evidence supports that
party's claim, and such evidence must be sufficient to sustain a finding in favor of the
nonmovant on all issues as to which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof
Harrison v. CD Consulting, Inc., 934 So.2d at 170-71.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A).
at trial.60 With regard to their claims against Mr. Guidry, the plaintiffs have not met
that burden. They have not identified specific facts that establish a genuine issue of
material fact regarding their claims against Mr. Guidry, nor have they demonstrated
that they can prove the elements of their claims against Mr. Guidry at trial.
Accordingly, Mr. Guidry is entitled to summary judgment in his favor.
For the reasons set forth above, this Court finds that the plaintiffs have not
proven the elements of their claims against Mr. Guidry for unfair trade practices,
breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with business relations, or conspiracy
nor have they established genuine issues of material fact concerning those claims.
Accordingly, Mr. Guidry’s motion for partial summary judgment (Rec. Doc. 107) is
GRANTED, and the plaintiffs’ claims against Mr. Guidry for unfair trade practices,
breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with business relations, and conspiracy
are dismissed with prejudice.
Signed at Lafayette, Louisiana on this 15th day of September 2017.
PATRICK J. HANNA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Johnson v. Deep East Texas Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, 379 F.3d
293, 301 (5 Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).
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